[MUD-Dev] Re: Convincing Players to Read Documentation

John Hopson jwh9 at acpub.duke.edu
Sun Oct 1 12:09:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Jon Morrow asked:

>The question is, "How do we convince players to read the documentation?"
>Honestly, I don't know.  I make references to my help system several times
>throughout our guided tutorials in hopes of players following through them.
>But I don't feel this is sufficient.  Does anyone have other ideas?

	First, we need to recognize that if players are ignoring helpfiles, it's
because we told them they weren't important.  Most muds have helpfiles so
bad that players quickly learn not to check them.  I was on a shadowrun mud
the other day that (honest to god) didn't have a helpfile for the word
"Rigger".  As always, coders tend to make documentation an afterthought.  I
do it myself.  If players have a bad attitude about documentation, they
picked it up from us.

	Second, I think we should make sure players _never_ hit a brick wall when
using the help files.  Every time they type a reasonable query and get a
"No help on that topic" message, you're training them not to check the
helps.  Logging non-existant helps is good, but automatically searching for
the right help is better.  If the player looks for "help dragon" and there
isn't one, use a simple search to recommend the next five best options.
I've found that this offers a vast improvement in checking helpfiles.  You
may not have a help for "squirrel", but they may be mentioned under "nuts".
 If there isn't a help for "morning-star", you have have them under
"maces".  Whatever kind of organizing principle you use for your helps will
be counter-intuitive to a large portion of your playerbase.  This lets you
have all the advantages of cross-referencing without the gruntwork.

	Finally, give the players who use the helpfiles an advantage.  Have some
keys to quests, cool options for commands, etc.  We've all seen the lengths
players are willing to go to for a little edge over their fellows.  If
reading the helps offers them a significant advantage, they'll take it.


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